TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany...

Trump’s State Deptartment finds new ways to make Russia happy


Donald Trump has heard the U.S. intelligence assessments about Russia taking steps to help put him in power, but the president refuses to believe it. Trump recently sat down with radical TV preacher Pat Robertson said, in reference to Russia’s Vladimir Putin, “Why would he want me?”

It’s easy to come up with quite a few reasons, actually.

The Rachel Maddow Show, 7/18/17, 9:39 PM ET

What would Russia want from a pliant US leader?

Rachel Maddow updates the show’s running list of what Russia would likely want to get out of a pliant U.S. leader, including weaker election security and cyber policy.
As we recently discussed, Trump is giving Putin what he wants in Syria,  while simultaneously isolating the United States diplomatically, fracturing Western alliances, largely ignoring Russia’s attack on the U.S. elections – all of which serve Moscow’s strategic goals. As Rachel noted on the show last week, the list of actions the Trump administration continues to take to satisfy Putin appears to be growing.

Take this Politico piece, for example, which was published this morning.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is resisting the pleas of State Department officials to spend nearly $80 million allocated by Congress for fighting terrorist propaganda and Russian disinformation.

It is highly unusual for a Cabinet secretary to turn down money for his department. But more than five months into his tenure, Tillerson has not issued a simple request for the money earmarked for the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, $60 million of which is now parked at the Pentagon. Another $19.8 million sits untouched at the State Department as Tillerson’s aides reject calls from career diplomats and members of Congress to put the money to work against America’s adversaries.

The $60 million will expire on Sept. 30 if not transferred to State by then, current and former State Department officials told POLITICO.

The article added that R.C. Hammond, a Tillerson aide, “suggested the money is unwelcome because any extra funding for programs to counter Russian media influence would anger Moscow, according to a former senior State Department official.”

By this reasoning, the U.S. Secretary of State has made a conscious decision not to counter Russian disinformation because he believes Russia wouldn’t like it.

Remember, this isn’t about cost-cutting or getting funds from Congress. The money has already been allocated to the State Department. Officials in the building and lawmakers on Capitol Hill want Tillerson to spend the money that’s sitting there.

To date, that hasn’t happened.

Donald Trump, Russia and State Department

Trump's State Deptartment finds new ways to make Russia happy